The regulation of DNA repair during serum stimulation of quiescent cells was examined in normal human cells, in fibroblasts from three xeroderma pigmentosum complementation groups (A, C, and D), in xeroderma pigmentosum variant cells, and in ataxia telangiectasia cells. The regulation of nucleotide excision repair was examined by exposing cells to ultraviolet irradiation at discrete intervals after cell stimulation. Similarly, base excision repair was quantitated after exposure to methylmethane sulfonate. WI-38 normal human diploid fibroblasts, xeroderma pigmentosum variant cells, as well as ataxia telangiectasia cells enhanced their capacity for both nucleotide excision repair and for base excision repair prior to their enhancement of DNA synthesis. Further, in each cell strain, the base excision repair enzyme uracil DNA glycosylase was increased prior to the induction of DNA polymerase using the identical cells to quantitate each activity. In contrast, each of the three xeroderma complementation groups that were examined failed to increase their capacity for nucleotide excision repair above basal levels at any interval examined. This result was observed using either unscheduled DNA synthesis in the presence of 10 mM hydroxyurea or using repair replication in the absence of hydroxyurea to quantitate DNA repair. However, each of the three complementation groups normally regulated the enhancement of base excision repair after methylmethane sulfonate exposure and each induced the uracil DNA glycosylase prior to DNA synthesis. These results suggest that there may be a relationship between the sensitivity of xeroderma pigmentosum cells from each complementation group to specific DNA damaging agents and their inability to regulate nucleotide excision repair during cell stimulation.